Is wood the material of the future?
Wood should be considered the building material of the future for four reasons.
First, wood is a sustainable building material, as it is derived from a renewable source and has low embodied energy when compared with most other structural materials. The energy consumed in managing forests, harvesting trees, producing forest products and transporting lumber and other forest products to job sites is relatively small. In addition, the forest products sector is resource efficient. Any residual parts of the product can be burned to produce energy or used as a raw material in other sectors.
Second, wood is a versatile and efficient building material. According to a number of life cycle assessment comparisons, a timber-built house consumes fewer natural resources and causes less environmental impact than a similar house built from competing building materials. The wood commonly used in construction surpasses other building materials in energy efficiency through its excellent thermal performance, low heat conductivity and good insulation properties. In addition, wood, used appropriately in accordance with building standards, will usually far exceed a service life of 50 years. The wood products commonly in use in construction include sawn timber, wood-based panels and engineered wood products.
Third, wood is not only the most commonly used structural building material in the world, it is also the only carbon neutral construction material. The use of wood in construction minimizes the generation of solid waste, lessens the impact on air and water quality and reduces the generation of greenhouse gases. Growing trees extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, with the carbon being stored in forest products. By comparison, other competing building products all contribute to carbon emissions, thus contributing to climate change.
Fourth, wood is the only major building material that is both renewable and sustainable over the long term. Moreover, at the end of their life cycle, wood products can be used for wood energy or be disposed of without problems.
Please consider wood as the building product for your next construction or remodelling project.
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Opinions expressed in this section are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position of UNECE, of the bodies established under its international legal agreements/conventions, or of the secretariat.